An application requesting variances to develop the site of the former Long Beach Island Trailer Park in Holgate was denied last week by the Long Beach Township Land Use Board.
The applicant, Lennar Corp., had requested special reasons and bulk variance approval, as well as waiver relief for lot area and width, to create 51 single-family residential dwelling lots on the property, owned by Long Beach Island Trailer Park Inc.
The trailer park was damaged in Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and the owners decided not to reopen.
Brian Murphy, a professional planner and engineer hired by the applicant, explained that the lots of the 51 proposed homes would range in size from 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, with the majority at 4,000 square feet. The property is zoned R50, which carries a 5,000-square-foot requirement, thus the need for variances. While the application did not ask to change the permitted use of the site, it did seek a change to permitted density.
As Holgate Taxpayers Association First Vice President Tom Beaty said prior to the meeting, the HTA opposed the requested variances. “They are requesting hardship variances when no hardship exists,” Beaty noted. “They want 40-foot lots and 13-foot side setbacks. Both go against zoning ordinances. Builders creating major subdivisions are required to follow the master plan and the applicable zoning ordinances.”
Professionals hired by the applicant argued that the buildings would have a desirable visual impact on the area, but a number of residents, as well as an attorney representing eight Holgate homeowners, spoke out against the plan during the public comment session of the meeting.
“I am totally against it,” remarked Vanessa Vanorden, who lives within 200 feet of the property. “It is zoned and ready for 36 lots. That’s plenty.”
“They want to increase density to the maximum,” said Carl Winter, who also lives within 200 feet.
A number of other residents voiced similar concerns about the request for increased density, which some believe could lead to issues with traffic and parking on the south end, in addition to their general disagreement with creating more lots than permitted.
Rand Pearsall, of Holgate, added that he was not impressed by other Lennar-designed projects he’s seen.
By board member Rob Roth’s count, of those who spoke during public comment, three were for the application and 17 were against.
Bill Hutson, owner of Lorry’s Island End Motel in Holgate, supported the application, noting, “I think it’s very good for the neighborhood.”
Local resident and Realtor Eileen Bowker, owner of Bowker’s Deli in Holgate, was also in favor of the plan.
Developer Mark Davies commented that the proposal is “not great. But it’s better than what it could be.” Board members Jim Leonetti and David Southwick also expressed concern about whether there could be mandated affordable housing on the site if approval is not given to allow homes designed and built by a company such as Lennar.
But, as a few of the other board members pointed out, the applicant must recognize that such a large development will define the neighborhood, and all applicants should pay mind to the township’s master plan. “It doesn’t make sense to ask for more” homes, remarked Patrick Moran, who sits on the board.
Roth said the applicant could easily come back with an application for a conforming subdivision.
– Reposted from The Sandpaper